Mirror Shards

by Lori Dwyer on January 28, 2013 · 10 comments

A guest post, from reader and friend of mine who would like to protect their anonymity. Let’s just say he’s a loving husband and a dad to two daughters who he adores.


Even on the shattered mirror shards…

It took a while for my Mum’s depression to develop, over a number of life events, and then for me to realise that she wasn’t just sensitive, but actually depressed, and quite severely. She’s been suicidal a few times, though one of those was a side-effect of the antidepressant medication she tried. It took longer still for me to really comprehend I couldn’t do a damn thing about it, could never make the world safe enough for her, could never give her enough love to overcome the chemicals in her brain. Luckily, thanks to finding the right sort of anti-depressants for her, and good counselling, the depression is being treated.

Alom Shaha writes:

‘As a result of her illness, my siblings and I had a part-time mother. I can’t speak for my brothers and sisters, but I resented her for this, even if I didn’t consciously realise it at the time. I was angry at her for leaving us, as things were always better when she was around. I was angry at her for making me miss her. And how I missed her; how awful it was to carry around that emptiness every day at school, pretending that nothing was wrong and nursing the hope that she’d be home when I got home from school. But I got used to it, and so did my siblings, because kids do get used to things.’

Whilst for the most part my Mum’s not been hospitalised, I certainly identify with that a lot. Probably worse than Mum being in hospital are the times, thankfully less often since she started getting treatment for it, when I talk to her and she sounds like a robot, devoid of emotion, or when she just takes everything the wrong way, or when everything gets sucked into this whirlpool of negativity that can suck me down if I’m not careful. There are times when I avoid contact because I have enough stress in my own non-depressed life without having to add, despite me wanting that motherly support. That’s the hardest part to deal with. I don’t think I’ll ever ‘get used to it’.

One of the frustrating things is not being able to talk about it, to carry on with life at work and with friends as if nothing is happening, so I thank Lori for the opportunity to at least blog anonymously on it, though I’ve still had to leave out a lot—personally I’m not ashamed to tell people when I’m down (which probably got close to being mild depression once), but my Mum feels ashamed. Partly it’s her worrying for nothing, but partly it’s that some people still wrongly attach a lot of stereotypes to it; that people with depression are weak, when they’re actually very strong to fight what is a disease, not just a down period you can try and ‘snap out of’, etc. Though I admit I struggle to comprehend that at times, too.

…a new scenery is reflected.

Probably the only good thing to come out of it all is the realisation that my Dad wasn’t to blame for everything, though he can still be a dick at times, but then so can we all. I admit, I started out as a bit of a mummy’s boy, and took her side on things, but as I grew up, and part of that through a relationship with an ex-girlfriend who had depression, I realised that my Dad was making the best of an increasingly difficult situation for him. So my relationship with my Dad has improved, and we talk more now, and I offer him support, because he needs it too.

One of the things that always annoys me when people talk about depression is the focus on the depressed/suicidal person, and very little if any discussion of the difficulties and challenges faced by family members and friends. So I hope this blog helps a little, as do these links to some resources and support groups.

If any overseas readers know of support groups outside of Australia, I’m sure Lori would be happy to add them here.


Thanks to Sapphyre for this link to GROW.

For carers, check out Partners In Depression.

And for teens, I personally think Reach Out is awesome.

Indeed I am- feel free to leave links in the comments, and I’ll add them to this post.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle February 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm

While I totally agree about how frustrating it can be to hear all the focus on the depressed person, this makes me feel terrible about my kids. This morning bursting into tears in the car before driving to school, and hearing my daughter’s “oh no”. But then, in all fairness, if their autism-spectrum-related overwhelms and meltdowns hadn’t been chained together in the preceding two hours, they’d never have even thought about how I felt, so it’s kind of a vicious circle… still, I wish for them not to worry about me, and I worry that they might develop guilt issues, like their dad has with far less reason.

Anyhow, I really appreciate this post for inspiring thinking about the wider picture. Thank you for sharing.


Lori Dwyer February 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Hi Danielle, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing- I feel this way sometimes, too.
Lori x


Guest Who? February 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

Danielle, I wasn’t trying to guilt trip any parents out there, and I don’t blame my parents. Parenting is tough, regardless, and as long as there’s love (and sure sounds like it in your case) your kids will turn out fine. :)


Guest Who? January 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm

@Sapphyre: Thanks for pointing out the broken link; I’ve emailed Lori the corrected one. And thank you so much for the link to grow.

@Anne: Wow, two parents, that’s tough. *hugs* I’m glad you’re finding your own depression is better out of that situation. From my experience with my Mum, and from what I’ve read, there’s definitely a genetic bias and a lot of situational factors too.


Sapphyre January 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm

That link above to resources and support groups is not working well.

I can highly recommend Grow for people with depression and Grow Better Together (Vic only) for mental health carers (I attend religiously). http://www.grow.net.au

I worry about my kids, growing up with a depressed/anxious father. He’s not depressed now. But I also had carer depression and anxiety, and it wasn’t under control, so they had two depressed parents for quite some time. Both of them have some anxiety issues, but no sign of depression (yet). I keep an eye and ear out for anything that might help.


Anne January 28, 2013 at 11:20 pm

What is harder is living with two parents who are both depressed. My mom was a fighter but she was a sobbing mess alot of the time and very angry and needy. Dad was the quiet, at times suicidal and morose, fearful depressed man. I fought my own battles with that and with my own depression in childhood (since alot of it disappeared once I was married I wonder if it was genetic or part of the scenery of my childhood that created it?) In any event it can be a fishbowl experience where you think you are trapped by this until you find a way to see what it looks like from the outside. One way we do it is when other’s share their stories. Thank you for doing that.


Guest Who? January 28, 2013 at 8:59 pm

@Anonymous: Lack of mental health services, or does your mum just not seek out help? As the joke goes, though, how many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but the lightbulb has to want to change. Whatever happens, know that you have a friendly listening ear here, and I hope you can find a support group to help you in your situation—at least you can seek out support, even if your mum doesn’t.

@krs: One part of the story I didn’t share above, is that in true Freudian fashion, my first girlfriend also suffered from depression; quite severely as a result of stuff in her childhood. In a way it was worse than many of the experiences with my mother, because I was very much in love. She dumped me, which at the time hurt, but looking back was a good thing, I eventually found my wife who is a rock—which is what I need, as I have enough difficulty trying to scaffold/help/understand/etc. my mum, which of course only works some of the time (c’est la vie). I hope you find support too. Even if you don’t, make sure you try and look after yourself too—you need to be a bit selfish sometimes to recharge, I find, so you can be there for your partner (in your case) the rest of the time.


Anonymous January 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. I was having this conversation with my sister about whether we would find mum having done something. I’m glad your mum has got help, ours doesn’t get help. And it’s usually me alternating between punching bag and tear stained pillow.
It is indeed very hard. And it’s great you have the eloquence to put into words what some find difficult.


krs January 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm

This “One of the things that always annoys me when people talk about depression is the focus on the depressed/suicidal person, and very little if any discussion of the difficulties and challenges faced by family members and friends”… Me too.

I am married to someone who battles depression/anxiety {and oscillates between good management of it and very poor management}. As a *good wife* I try very hard to scaffold/help/understand/etc and 98% of the time I’m cool with it, but I too wonder where the support is for the support person. Many people are impacted when 1 person has mental health needs.

Thank you very much for sharing


Anonymous February 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

“….I too wonder where the support is for the support person”
So true. Carers in general are disgustingly undervalued in our society in *all* circumstances. When mental illness still has to be justified as an illness- it makes it that much worse xx


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